Running Into The Unknown

Having arrived into Dublin a few days ago now, I think I’m mostly over the jet-lag. Last night’s run was fantastic, so I really slept like a baby.

While I’m here I’m running tech-less. It’s just me and my water bottle when I set out. I don’t have access to my beloved Nike+ and I can’t seem to find my Garmin charger. Once I lost those two, I felt like I should just ditch the iPod as well, out of solidarity.

So it’s back to the old tech version of planning out a route beforehand and then running out the door. This becomes doubly difficult in a city I’m unfamiliar with, with road names I can’t pronounce, and whose streets never go straight in any direction.

That said, running without tech and along completely unknown routes is exhilarating. It forces increased alertness and pushes curiosity. I think both are great things.

That said, it can lead to some interesting problems. Last night, being somewhat jet lagged and completely exhausted, a plotted out what I thought was a very easy 4k route. Just a quick jaunt to wake up my legs, my heart and my mind. The first 1k was pleasant, following the River Liffey, passing the Guinness Brewery.

Then the route curved off into the city, and, apparently up. And up. And up.

About 2k of a gentle but persistent slope upwards. The kind that leaves a dull ache in your calves. This is apparently a popular running route, as I found several significantly more capable runners than me blasting up the hill.

And thus, my short quick run was turned into a hill workout. Such is the joys of running new routes, in a new city.

I can’t wait to head out again tonight.

 

 

We Are All Athletes

2008 Summer Olympics - Opening Ceremony - Beijing, China 同一个世界 同一个梦想 - U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program - FMWRC

If you recall, high schools across North America tend to easily divide students into categories. As the 2004 smash hit and Lindsay Lohan vehicle, Mean Girls, tells us, “You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, JV jocks…varsity jocks…” In other words, students can be athletes – in which case, they are probably signed up for multiple sports and teams – or they can be, well, not. 

(Side note: this is not to hate on student athletes, who are their own brand of awesome, just as we all are.)

But I was firmly in the not  category when it came to student athletics. I mean, I was okay-ish. I wasn’t picked dead last in gym, but I sure as hell didn’t get picked first.

Let’s just leave it by saying that I actually used study period to study. In the library. By choice. 

So when my older, significantly-more-accomplished-athletically-than-I-or-most-of-society-could-hope-to-be sister tried to tell me I could be runner I laughed and gave it exactly one shot. I went for a 20 minute run with her and hated it for 19.59 minutes. I liked the bit where we stopped. I could not imagine why people do this for fun. Honestly, what was the point of getting outside to sweat profusely in front of your neighbours as you shuffled along the gravel shoulder of a road for 20 minutes? Needless to say, I was excruciatingly sore the next day and didn’t lace up again for years (if you want to read about that, go here and here).

It wasn’t until I did that I realized we can all be athletes. You don’t need to own anything spandex, you don’t need to have a musculature that can be seen through several layers of bulky sweaters, and you certainly don’t need to be elite-anything.

My point is that athletes are not confined to specialty teams, high schools nor is it a label that should be reserved for the select few. Do you play in an intramural sport in your community? Athlete. Take in a game of squash with a co-worker occasionally? Athlete. Or, like me, lace up a few times a week and give it your best shot? Athlete.

Of course, if labels like “athlete” don’t mean anything to you, that is perfectly fine too.

But for many, myself included, reminding myself that “I. Am. An. Athlete” at the 2nd to last km on a long run can be a motivator all on its own. And that is definitely worth something.

Go run. Be awesome. Happy Running!

Why Run?

Dusk Run . . .

Why go for a run? Why start with a sport that inherently involves sweating it out, usually in front of complete strangers, while you huff and puff down the side walk? It hurts, it’s too hot out, it’s too cold out, it’s late, it’s too early, I don’t really need to go….I’ve been there. I’ve had all the excuses. I still let them get the best of me on occasion, meaning this post is just as much for you as it is for me.

So here it is. This is why you should go for a run.

It’s awesome.

….you were expecting something more? Some sort of sage wisdom? Perhaps an introspective on how we, as a species, were built for chasing down our prey on the savanna and now you are honouring that tradition? Sorry to disappoint.

Seriously though – Running. Is. Awesome.

Think about it this way: when was the last time you regretted heading out for a run? Personally, I can honestly say I’ve never regretted it. Maybe I didn’t have the best run, maybe I just couldn’t seem to find my stride, maybe I had a bird attack my head (true story, but one for another post), but despite that I’ve never come back from a run feeling worse than when I started out.

For that reason alone – get going. Step out the door, and it will all fall into place after that.

If you’re finding it hard despite this, may I offer a lesson from John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room? I read somewhere** John says that when he is having a very hard time lacing up and getting out there, he tells himself he only has to do it for 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes he doesn’t like it, he can return home. He claims that by the time 10 minutes is up, he usually doesn’t mind sticking it out. If it works for him – the man who was overweight and smoked 2 packs a day before running himself into the head of a running empire – then maybe it can work for us mere mortals.

Finally, if none of that is working and you need something else, I’ll give you my fail safe mantra. This one gets me out the door no matter what:

I’ve you are tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Happy Running!

 

(Photo Credit: David Robert Bliwas)

 

**If you know where, leave a message in the comments so I can supply the link for those who want it!

Welcome to Awesome Run

Hi there!

I see you stumbled upon Awesome Run. I’m so happy to have you. Awesome Run is a home for aspiring and beginner runners (and sometimes, elite eaters) which is exactly the category I fall into. Here, I hope you will seek and find motivation to keep running, reasons for doing it in the first place, and hopefully some yummy recipes along the way.

 

Maybe you want to know why I started running and as I suppose that is only fair, here it is:

 

I started running because I was broke, mildly depressed and totally unsure of where my life was going. I’m still totally unsure of where my life is going, somewhat less broke and no longer depressed, I call that a success.

 

I had just quit my job, and was about to return to the same job after a period of negotiation, when I felt that I needed something. You know the feeling: whatever is going on right now wasn’t cutting it, and I felt an itch to change my life. If truth be told, I woke up one morning after feeling particularly depressed, and decided that I was done feeling that way, forever. I wasn’t happy with how things were going and I was ready. I was going to make a change.

I hopped on meetups.com and found that a FREE (I mentioned I was broke, right?) couch to 5k clinic was happening the next day, and runners (ha!) of all abilities were welcome. It was being hosted by Lole, a Montreal-based athletic wear store, in the swanky downtown neighbourhood of Toronto called Yorkville. Even if it was an attempt to get me to buy things – which I later did, quite happily – it seemed a fair deal. So I went.

 

There I met someone that would change my life. She was the coach of the couch to 5k clinic, and remains a valued friend to this day. The club started out running for 1 minute and walking for 1 minute. Almost everyone there was in the same boat as me: broke, in search of something and physically inactive. Although it wasn’t officially part of the description of the club, the more I talked to the participants, the more I noticed a common theme. We were all looking for that missing piece, and had decided that if it couldn’t be found else where – not in our jobs, or friends, our significant others – that we would find it ourselves. For some reason, we had all decided that running could help us.

 

I could barely do the 1 minute of running that first day, but I survived thanks in no small part to my fantastic run coach. She set a standard for coaching that I keep to this day – positive, unrelenting and most of all, grounded in a strong sense of you can do it. It was just what I, a depressed 20 something with no idea of where my life was headed, needed. I’m not sure if she knows just how much she did for me. I hope she does now.

 

Each meeting, we progressed little by little. Eventually, I was running for 5 whole minutes in a row. At the end of the 8 week program, I had a new group of friends, the ability to run 10 minutes at a time, and a PR for 5k set at a whooping 45 minutes. I knew this was about 15 minutes longer than what many consider to be acceptable, but I didn’t care. I had done it. That was all that mattered. I still think that is all that matters.

 

I skipped past the 5k race sign up, and went straight for the 10k. I finished that first 10k with a time of 1:14 minutes – 14 minutes longer than my lofty goal of 1 hr. But I finished.

 

Since then, I have done several more races, including a half marathon. I intend to keep running because it really is awesome. Running gives me so much of what I never had before – an escape, a stress reliever, a journey, a goal, a built-in community, self-reliance and that thing I was searching for, and still am, – myself.

 

Welcome to Awesome Run.